By 2026, there’s going to be a lot less hunger worldwide—and that’s something to celebrate. The reason is not that we’re growing more food, however. Food is just getting cheaper.
The USDA just crunched the numbers on food costs in the world’s low- and middle-income countries, which also have the majority of the world’s hungry people. In those countries, grain typically makes up the bulk of the diet—and grain prices, across the board, are projected to drop this decade. At the same time, many of those same countries are also predicted to see small gains in income.
Taken together, the simultaneous drop in prices and rise in income means that the number of hungry people globally will fall 60 percent over the next decade. That means that, by 2026, just 6 percent of the world’s population will struggle with hunger, instead of the current 17 percent.
While world hunger levels falling is, of course, an excellent thing, having a large group of people dependent on just a few foods for their entire diet is also a problem. It leaves people incredibly vulnerable if there’s a crop failure. Or, if grain prices suddenly turn the other way, not only will the gains be lost, but there could be even more hungry people. Also eating just a couple foods—almost all of it grain—can mean that even people getting enough food still aren’t getting enough of the vitamins they need.
The drop in hunger that’s going to unfold over the next decade is still something to celebrate. But, if it’s going to stick, we’re going to have to make sure it’s built on more than just the price of grain.